Spaghetti and meatballs, the Slimming World way

I THOUGHT about changing the name of this blog now that I’m married and no longer have to worry about the wedding dress, but then I thought, meh, I’m fat, I’m always beating myself into SOME sort of dress.

So I’m leaving it. And on that note:

When I was 25 I lasted four days on the Atkins Diet before flinging myself, wild eyed, into the door of an Italian restaurant and begging them to bring me a plate of pasta. Stat.

I think I probably wasn’t the first desperate, fat, slightly sweaty, carb-deprived Irish woman to come through their door because they seated me with a smile and brought me complimentary garlic bread while I was waiting.

When I was 26 I bought slimming tablets from an infomercial on late night TV. The tablets were made, I found out later, from fish guts, which they claimed bound fat together leaving you lean and serene, while you sat on your hole eating cakes and watching, well, infomercials.

The only thing that got leaner on that diet was my wallet. And I started to smell like fish, too.

Over the years I’ve tried the Cabbage Soup Diet (yes, it gave me the scutters), the Slimfast Diet (gank), the Special K Diet (well, it’s cardboard really, isn’t it?) calorie-counting, even group diets like WeightWatchers and I never stuck to any of them.

They bored me rigid. You thought about food, constantly. I started to obsess about food and I’m sure I drove my family and friends to distraction going on about the new one and veering between crazily counting out exactly 19 grains of rice, and stuffing eclairs down my throat like they were about to put a levy on them.

Call it laziness, call it lack of will-power, call it whatever you want, me and diets just do not work.

Actually, now that I’m older and wiser, I know for sure it was laziness. It still is.

I can’t tell you how many psychological profiles I’ve filled in online and in nutritionists’ offices, searching for the why, trying to find out how I got to be the size I am.

I’m a comfort eater, I eat when I’m distracted thus not realising what or how much I’m eating, like all fat people, I eat to hide the tears. I’ve heard it all. Blah blah blah.

Here’s the truth – I love to eat, and I hate to exercise. I love all food. Good nutritious food, fruit, vegetables, salad and also the bad stuff, the tip of the pyramid stuff. Chocolate. Cakes. Butter. All of it. I love it all. Too much in, not enough out equals thunder thighs. And Sumo belly. And bingo wings. You get the idea.

There is no mystery with me. No deep psychological scar. No childhood trauma. No glandular problem. No secret binge eating, or throwing up, nothing like that.

I simply love to eat, and hate to exercise. And despite envying slim women for their fashion sense and their ability to wear heels, in general I’m happy with myself.

Always have been.

The medical profession however, is not. Bet you thought this was going to be a ‘love yourself, have another cupcake’ post didn’t you?

‘Fraid not.

I might be, truly, happy with myself and how I look. I might hate diets. I might not care that my thighs meet, that I have back fat, that I have to buy plus-sized clothes. I might feel a pang when I read a fashion magazine and see the gorgeousness but I always shrug it off easily. I’m not slim, so what?

But my doctor doesn’t agree. And sadly, he’s right. I have to lose weight, I have to diet for my health, it really is as simple as that. Boring, but simple. It’s been going on too long and I have to make a change.

‘What am I going to do?’ I asked, teary eyed, logging on to the online wedding forum I can’t seem to give up even though I’m nine months married at this stage.

And then, like an angel, she appeared. An online pal, with two magic words. Slimming World.

‘I’ve tried all that before,’ I protested. ‘Counting points, obsessing over Extra Light or Extra Extra Light mayo, wearing cling-film for 24-hours before weigh-in, I’ve done it all.’

‘You haven’t tried this,’ she said and emailed me the information.

The difference between Slimming World and, well, every other diet in the world, is that on Slimming World – you’re actually allowed to eat. You’re positively encouraged to eat.

It has been a revelation. There are some rules, of course. The unlimited eating doesn’t apply to the top of the pyramid stuff. But if it’s real, tasty, filling dinners you’re after? Then Slimming World is your man.

It relies on three basic principals – superfree food (your fruits and vegetables) free foods (lean meat, potatoes, pasta and rice) and synned food (your cakes, chocolate and oils).

You eat all you want of superfree and free foods, ensuring that 1/3 of your plate is filled with superfree, and then you count your syns. And that’s it.

No, really. That’s it.

You weigh nothing. Well, very little. Your bread and dairy is controlled along with the treats. But apart from those, you weigh nothing. You count nothing. You find the calorie content of nothing.

How many calories are there in an egg? I couldn’t tell you, I don’t need to know.

Once you trim the visible layer of fat off a steak, you can eat it. Without guilt. Once you cook your food without fat or oil, you can eat it. Roast beef dinner? Yes you can. Spaghetti Bolognese? Yes, you can. Chicken curry? I had that this evening!

You do have to cook almost everything from scratch, you spend a lot of your time chopping vegetables and dinner can take an hour most evenings to cook, so there is a downside. Very little pre-packaged or processed food is allowed. But once you’ve finished the chopping and cooking, you can eat the results. And eat until you’re full. Really full. Not ‘I’d eat my own arm but I’m powering through’ full, but really, satisfyingly full.

And the weight comes off. It won’t fall off you overnight, it averages about 1lb a week, but it comes off. It comes off and you can eat. What more do you want?

I did fall off the wagon over Christmas – alright then, if you’re being like that about it, for the whole month of December – as my inner lazy hoor surfaced and I had a break from all the chopping and cooking. But getting back on the wagon has been incredibly easy. I fell back into it on day one, chopping and cooking up a storm, without a backward glance to the tin of Roses.

I think this time I might be able to stick to this thing. I think this time it will work and I will lose weight. For good. Although Slimming World is not an exercise programme, I am exercising as well, walking and using my stationary bike, to improve my fitness levels. Being able to eat and enjoy food helps with the motivation.

Of course it could all end in tears. It has before. And it may again. I’ve already fallen off the wagon. But getting back on is becoming easier and easier and I’m losing weight.

So now, how do you like them apples?

 

Check out http://www.slimmingworld.com for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

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